Author Topic: Alternative belly woods for bows?  (Read 621 times)

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Offline Bamboo-Bows

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Alternative belly woods for bows?
« on: September 24, 2020, 01:04:15 am »
Hi there,

I have been searching for some alternative woods for belly pieces of bows. Flatbows, longbow. Most common are lemonwood, greenheart, ipť, osage or yew. What other woods can be used as a belly piece? Is there some alternative that is not tropical hardwood?

Thanks!  (SH)
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Offline Del the cat

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Re: Alternative belly woods for bows?
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2020, 05:02:18 am »
There are plenty of woods, but it's always a matter of availability and suitability, some are better than others, but that's no help if you can't get them.
Experiment with what is available, and make a bow style that suits the wood.
Del
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Offline Pat B

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Re: Alternative belly woods for bows?
« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2020, 06:22:18 am »
I agree with Del.
Make the most of all that comes and the least of all that goes!    Pat Brennan  Brevard, NC

Offline Deerhunter21

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Re: Alternative belly woods for bows?
« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2020, 06:55:32 am »
Some people have used bamboo as a belly. dont know what kind so i dont know it you'd consider it tropical or not.
"Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realise we cannot eat money." Cree Native-American Proverb

A amature practices untill he gets it right. A master practices untill he never gets it wrong.

Russell - 15 years

Offline bushboy

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Re: Alternative belly woods for bows?
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2020, 07:14:29 am »
White elm can handle stressed designs...within reason...being interlocked .
Some like motorboats,I like kayaks,some like guns,I like bows,but not the wheelie type.

Offline Marc St Louis

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Re: Alternative belly woods for bows?
« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2020, 07:32:52 am »
There was a guy in BC that used Greenheart for bows in late 1990's.  He claimed it was better than Ipe

As to your question, BL, Hard Maple, HHB all make very good hard backed bows.  Anything that will make a good selfbow will also make a good backed bow
Home of heat-treating, Corbeil, On.  Canada

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Offline Flntknp17

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Re: Alternative belly woods for bows?
« Reply #6 on: September 24, 2020, 08:42:06 am »
I have been wanting to expand my bamboo backed bows into some different belly woods because we have a really nice hardwood lumberyard here that sells lots of different tropical woods.  I tried sapele....but apparently I accidentally got sapwood and it was a total failure.  I'd be happy to hear some woods other than ipe that I should try. 

I have used hickory and maple for years to make bamboo backed bows and they're both pretty bullet proof and straight forward.  Certainly the hickory is crazy durable, but the maple tends to shoot better in my humid summers.  If you haven't used hard maple for a bamboo backed bow, I'd definitely recommend it.  I feel like it might be the best combo for bamboo of the easily available hardwoods. 

Matt

Offline Dances with squirrels

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Re: Alternative belly woods for bows?
« Reply #7 on: September 24, 2020, 10:46:58 am »
I used hophornbeam on a few and it worked good.
Straight wood may make a better bow, but crooked wood makes a better bowyer

Offline silent sniper

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Re: Alternative belly woods for bows?
« Reply #8 on: September 24, 2020, 10:50:18 am »
Like Matt I also have a local specialty lumber Store that offers almost any wood desired. I have mainly stuck with local lumbers for belly woods because of their low cost.

I have tried osage, black locust, hickory, white oak, American elm and Red cedar with bamboo/maple/hickory backings. My experience with each belly material varies, but I do know that some belly woods vary in quality from board to board. I bought a piece of elm that was a real turd as well as a piece of light density black locust that simply collapsed in the longbow design I was trying. So I can not make accurate judgements on some materials that I have only built a few bows from. I can say that osage is consistently excellent and good quality black locust makes excellent bows as well.

my future list of builds contains more backed ERC bows as well as giving yellowheart a try. The world of building laminated woods is never ending, there seems to always be some new combo worth trying.

Enjoy,
Taylor

Offline DC

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Re: Alternative belly woods for bows?
« Reply #9 on: September 24, 2020, 10:55:43 am »
Does belly wood have to be able to bend on it's own. If, for example, you have a wood the snaps like a match stick would that eliminate it from the bellywood category or does the backing protect it?
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Offline Del the cat

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Re: Alternative belly woods for bows?
« Reply #10 on: September 24, 2020, 11:15:31 am »
Does belly wood have to be able to bend on it's own. If, for example, you have a wood the snaps like a match stick would that eliminate it from the bellywood category or does the backing protect it?
I'd think the backing protects it. It only needs to be good in compression.
Del
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Offline Kidder

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Re: Alternative belly woods for bows?
« Reply #11 on: September 24, 2020, 01:14:13 pm »
Does belly wood have to be able to bend on it's own. If, for example, you have a wood the snaps like a match stick would that eliminate it from the bellywood category or does the backing protect it?
I'd think the backing protects it. It only needs to be good in compression.
Del
First a disclaimer: Iím new to bow building. That out of the way, I donít think itís quite that simple. The issue has to do with thickness. If the backing and the belly are exactly the same thickness then I think this is true. But as I understand it most backings are thinner than belly woods. Which means that a portion of the belly wood also comes under tension. Someone please correct me if I am wrong, I too am trying to understand the physics of this...
« Last Edit: September 24, 2020, 01:29:20 pm by Kidder »

Online PatM

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Re: Alternative belly woods for bows?
« Reply #12 on: September 24, 2020, 01:42:10 pm »
Not with a hard backing.  Yes with a soft backing, depending on thickness.

Offline willie

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Re: Alternative belly woods for bows?
« Reply #13 on: September 24, 2020, 01:51:25 pm »
in some markets, "ipe" is a multitude of similar species with similar characteristics for decking. other species are sold under their own market name into the decking market too.

you might find some work better than others for bow wood.
one rule of thumb is to look for high density boards

Offline Hamish

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Re: Alternative belly woods for bows?
« Reply #14 on: September 24, 2020, 05:53:53 pm »
BB The woods you mentioned are proven bow woods used by manufacturers throughout the last several hundred years. Other woods may well make good bows(oak ash etc), but not for all designs, maybe just flatter, wider bows.  Some of those woods can be used for narrow bows like ELB but they need an extra process, like heat treatment, and or heat reflexing  to give good performance. Extra labor time increases the cost of bow,   more so than use of ideal materials.

Another option is to glue up edge sections of a tough bamboo eg tonkin cane(power fibres, not the softer pith). Its different to the way you make your boo bows because only the backing  is left with nodes. The belly is tillered like a regular wood bow, and doesn't have, belly with intact nodes. This method sure is a lot of extra work, but was highly regarded in the pre fibreglass era, for top of the line performance, and shootability.

You can buy boo floor boards already glued up. They can make a nice shooting bow when backed. They need reflexing to avoid excessive set though. This is likely due to higher content of pith as they are not planed to maximise the content of power fibres.

A word of warning if you try the floorboard method,  thickness sand the finish off first, because it blunts plane blades rather quick.